Tag Archives: Advice

Winter Survival Guide (1) ~ Introduction.

It’s that beautiful and thought-provoking time of year again, filled with contrasts on so many levels. Autumn is passing, and winter is almost upon us. The vibrancy of leaves bursting into exciting shades of red, orange, yellow, gold, green and brown, will in a short time give way to bare or sparse branches, a stillness, perhaps darker, colder, greyer days, and maybe even a hint of snow.

Perhaps you live in a warmer and sunnier clime than I do, but here people are beginning to sense the change in the air, and it’s that time again to stay indoors, to get warm and cosy and prepare for in a sense a mini ‘hibernation’.

People approach such times of the year differently. You may have read my previous post to encourage and help those of us who might find certain aspects of these seasons at least a little bit challenging. The link is below for those of you who would like to read it or be reminded of some of the things you can do to prepare yourself.

However, I’m also going to start a series of shorter, more ‘bitesized’ posts to encourage us on various aspects of how we can survive and thrive during the winter season, so that you can dip in and out of the ones that interest you. So watch this space, I’ll be posting more very soon. Stay warm and cosy 🙂 x

https://livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2019/11/02/if-you-are-facing-a-difficult-festive-and-holiday-season-ahead/

adult and cub tiger on snowfield near bare trees
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My New Blog – ‘Victory over Bullying’ providing Help for Bullied Children and Adults…

Hi Friends,

I’ve started a new blog to provide free help, support and advice for children who are being bullied. I also hope to provide help for adults like myself overcoming the effects of childhood bullying, and advice for parents, friends and carers.

My new blog is one day old, so please be patient while I get things going. It is so important that our children and young people get the help they need, and if you know a young person who can benefit, please look at this along with them or share the link. There are so many bad influences online that I have created a safe place for children and adults to find healing, encouragement and help. It means so much if this helps even one person. Please share the encouragement. Thank you.

https://bullyinghelp.home.blog/category/help-for-children/

man and child walking near bushes during daytime
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Please Help this Night Owl become a Morning Lark (or at least be able to fit in a bit more with society’s ‘timetable’)!

‘Life as it happens to me’ has me at a point where I am attempting to climb a proverbial mountain. I am by nature a ‘night owl’. I love the idea of being a morning person, and the few times I have been able to have a good stretch of time in the morning has been really good. I know that there is research about people’s circadian rhythms that mean some people are more inclined to being either ‘larks’ or ‘owls’, and it’s hard to fight against it. Hard perhaps, but maybe not impossible…I’m sure it has been done. I am also a very creative person, and so it is not easy for me to turn my thoughts and ideas off and have a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed and ready to go in the morning. 

The thing is, for me, there are extra dimensions to this ‘problem’. I went through a period of time when I was not able to have a full night’s undisturbed sleep for three years. It was exhausting, frightening and just a horrible time for me.

Additionally, I have anxiety, panic attacks and complex post traumatic stress which means night time can be difficult and if I get to sleep early I might still have nightmares, be unable to settle into a good sleep and wake up at various points during the night. So in the morning, I am not able to get up with my early alarm, and added to that I have the anxiety of getting ready and out the door, and am very rarely on time for things because of these added challenges to my  body and brain. However, I have overcome so many other things in my life and this although I have tried time and time before is on my list. And friends, I need help!

I have read things, watched videos and sought advice on how to overcome this aspect of my life, but it is not something I have ever been able to sustain despite my efforts. Some aspects of healing of my conditions take time, but I am determined to get on top of things but it can get discouraging. 

I need help to keep me accountable, to help me get on track in the first place, then stay on track, and although I’ve probably heard most of it all before, I need advice and helpful tips and tricks. I wish there was a switch that could just make things work, but there isn’t and society has its framework geared towards ‘morning people’. Any help, advice or stories from your own experience if your natural rhythm is more nocturnal would be so welcomed. I share a lot of advice on other life issues, but this is one I have no expertise on, so please help this frustrated little owl! 🙂 Thanks friends. xx

bird animal owl wisdom
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Writing Retreat Reflections and Advice- Day 3 (Part 1)

Summary of Approach so Far – Has it been Effective? Yes:

Well, day 3 of the retreat has arrived, and this is the final day. My approach to yesterday’s writing was not to set myself specific targets as to word count, as I did on day 1, but to focus on engaging more deeply and enjoying the creative process. Later that day I adapted my approach and set aside a time frame within which to write, but with a focus on the process and no set word count to aim for.

It turned out to be a freeing and productive approach and I have moved forwards in my writing. In case you are interested, total words written of my novel over days 1 and 2 is 6,142 words. This is something I have been working on over a number of years already, so I wasn’t starting from scratch and therefore already had a narrative and momentum in place. However, if you are approaching a retreat with the idea of producing something completely new, it is helpful to do some brainstorming before hand, to sketch out some rough ideas of what you want to focus on and write about so that you start your retreat with inspiration and not feeling at a loss as to what you are actually going to create.

As to where those words have taken me – I have been able to develop the narrative, the characterisation as well as introducing new characters. I’m happy with the quality of my writing, but I do think that I may come back to refine a few sentences at a later point. More deeply, the development of one of my protagonists, who is an expression of myself, has helped me to change the way I see myself and circumstances and potential for overcoming challenges in my own life, so that is definitely an aspect of the retreat that will stay in my heart and that I will take forwards into everyday life.

Morning of Day 3:

Taking time aside for a personal retreat, laying aside many of the usual daily distractions and everyday ‘noise’ to focus on a particular task can be very beneficial on a number of levels. However, it can also be a time when in a healing sense, difficult things can rise to the surface of our hearts, that we might be tempted to ‘stuff down’, especially during our usual busy routines. This can be challenging but also in the long term freeing if we allow ourselves to work through things to come out stronger on the other side, rather than running from them. 

Final day, anxiety, and tips for maintaining momentum once you re-enter the ‘real world’

Anxiety issues are bothering me again, but I can choose how to think and react to these unpleasant feelings. I have suffered for many years from anxiety, panic and PTSD, but I am overcoming them. That aside, in general, people may feel a sense of restlessness, anxiety and even panic when their retreat is drawing to a close. 

Suddenly you are more aware of the shortness of time, you may not have accomplished what you set out to do, you may have a mess around you to tidy and have to prepare for ‘going back’ to your everyday world and routine, and after having been safely tucked away in your own creative space without having to contend with other people’s problems, thoughts, demands or chatter, it can be a source of anxiety to conclude a retreat well.

I realise that I am partly in this state, but I have found breaking things down, and blogging the process has been entirely beneficial and productive for me, and hopefully interesting to you in considering your own retreat needs, approaches and expectations. 

To keep from feeling overwhelmed, I am just approaching each bit of the day as it comes. This morning I had breakfast, spent time in prayer, and listening to Psalm 119 online as it sometimes helps me to concentrate on the Word when hearing it audibly.

It is currently just after 10am, and I am blogging this update, while listening to calming instrumental background music to help manage the anxiety. This morning, I have new thoughts and developments that I’d like to write more about in my novel, so I may spend a little time doing that. However, I feel like I am also in a good place with it in terms of ‘next steps’ having had this concentrated writing time, as there are some details that I will need to research and this will enable me to have a task in mind for when I do go back into my day to day life and have less focussed writing time – I can leisurely look into researching certain things that I am including in some upcoming scenes for when I do get another chance to sit down and write.

It’s good to have something like that so that once you move into a busier routine when you have other commitments to balance, if that is also the case for you, then you won’t just be left feeling like your project has come to a halt. Maybe there are aspects of your book or project you can research, talk to people about, take notes, prepare ideas and so forth without actually having to write about them at that stage. That will help you keep the momentum going and allow yourself time to think and ‘mull over’ ideas for when the time comes around again for more focussed writing. 

It’s now 10.18am, and I will spend a modest amount of time writing and laying down some ideas, and points for future research, that I can explore in more depth at a later point.

Update at 11.37am: I wrote an additional 227 words of my novel this morning, and as the new concepts and scenes I have begun to introduce are a little bit ‘bigger than me’ at the moment, I will need to spend time in prayer, reading, researching, thinking and seeking wisdom as to how to develop them further. So, with those exciting challenges ahead, I am concluding the novel writing part of the retreat, having written a grand 3 day total of 6,369 words, and feeling Thankful to God.

body of water surrounded by trees
Photo by Torsten Kellermann on Pexels.com

Learning to Draw

With the nights growing longer, and the days colder, as leaves begin to turn from green to vibrant shades of yellow, orange and red, and then fade once more into grey, and fall and turn to dust, the evenings have become a perfect time for some cosy indoor activities.

So, I am attempting to learn to draw. I have always loved to doodle, but I have never taken an art class in my life, and I have never really known where to begin. I’m no artist, just a beginner, and I would love to learn and develop so much more.

This week I have been sketching and watching You Tube videos in my attempt to figure out just where to start. Here are four completed pictures that I have done. They aren’t great, as I’m just a beginner, but they made me smile and I hope they make you smile too.

I would love to hear from people who have been drawing for a while, and for whom art is ‘their thing’. Do you have any advice for a newbie / beginner? And any feedback on what I have done in my first week?

Thanks so much. Hoping to come across some blogs with some beautiful and interesting original artwork to help inspire me in this creative journey.

my flower collage 27.09.17.jpg

The Tortoise and the Hare – Sunday afternoon random ramblings on mental health and wellbeing…

 

Tortoise-and-hare-014.jpgImage Courtesy of Google Images.

Perhaps one of Aesop’s most well known fables is that of ‘The Tortoise & The Hare’….you know the one I mean, right? If not, Google or Wikipedia will be sure to put you right 😉 However, for the purposes of my illustration, I’ll try to summarise the fable in two or three sentences. Here goes:

So one fine day, a tortoise and a hare decide to have a race against each other (I think the whole thing began with the hare mocking the slow tortoise), the hare clearly having the natural advantage in speed over the oh so slow tortoise. To all intents and purposes this is the hare’s race, and he will win hands (or paws) down; knowing this, the hare speeds off while the tortoise is making miniscule progress, so the hare decides to have a nap. While the hare is napping, the tortoise perseveres and ends up winning the race (hurrah!), leaving us with the moral of the story as, ‘slow and steady wins the race’.

Sometimes we just need a good old children’s story, fable or fairy tale to help give some perspective to our stressful adult lives. Perhaps, right now in life you feel like you’re the tortoise while all your peers are speeding off ahead of you. Or, veering completely off the path of Aesop’s fable, perhaps every morning you look in the mirror and feel concerned that your ears are getting bigger, that along with a few more grey hairs you might also be sprouting whiskers, a tail and that your chiselled jaw line is in fact becoming more and more rodent-like as you don your work attire to join all the other rats in your shared race to goodness knows where. Or perhaps you’ve given up altogether on the idea that you’re actually in a race going somewhere, even if you don’t know where that somewhere might be, and feel more affinity with a hamster, and a discontented hamster at that, on a wheel, just scrambling on and on everyday with no real distance covered despite the many steps taken. Round and round you go, wishing that like the hare you could just take a ‘time out’ and have a nap or a sabbatical of sorts from the daily grind, while still inching ahead like the tortoise to ultimately win the race. Whatever will it take to make you feel ‘human’ again?

Firstly, let me assure you that you are not alone, and that much of humanity shares this ‘modern day’ dilemma. I would venture to say that we need to write a new story. One in which we do not feel forced to view life as a race, or a competition. One in which we know that it is ok to take a nap, or to go at a slow and steady pace. It’s ok, people, it’s ok! 🙂

I understand how hard it can be to give ourselves the permission to rest, to take time out, or just to stop and say, ‘enough of this race, already, I just want to go for a gentle stroll in a sunkissed woodland or meadow and hear the birds singing’.

We weren’t designed to be in a constant, unending state of fight or flight. For our mental health and wellbeing it is important to take time out for ourselves EVERY DAY simply to BE. Today, I would encourage you to take a step back and just quieten your heart and your mind and your breathing. Be still. Listen. Pray. Grieve. Whatever it is that you need to do or be in the quietness, take time to experience that. Life is not a race, but it is a journey. We may spend long stretches walking or crawling alone while at other times in our life’s journey we will have encouraging companionship, or even hostile opposition. Where you are right now is alright. I would urge you to commit to your own wellbeing by doing the things that make for peace in your life. The simplest but perhaps one of the most effective places to start is with your breathing. Something so simple has had a profound effect on my wellbeing, as someone who has PTSD, complex trauma, panic attacks, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and severe clinical depression. So I don’t say what I say lightly, I say it because I care and I know it helps. Make it a practice everyday or as often as you can to focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale deeply from your mouth. This helps to regulate your nervous system, calm the fight and flight mechanism and ‘anxiety hormones’ if you will, and still the mind. Like a runner in a race (yep, back to races again…if you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention! 🙂 ) you will need to practice, exercise your breath and your mental strength, and stay in training. This is core work, just as you would strengthen your core physically through exercise, regulating your breathing is essential to your wellbeing.

Keep up this exercise throughout your life, yes, slow and steady 🙂 and supplement it with building mental strength and resilience through the way you regulate your inner ‘self talk’. Be kind, compassionate and encouraging to yourself, but be real with yourself too. Perhaps you may find it helpful when taking time out to keep a notepad and pen beside you so that you can jot down the thoughts or worries that come to mind, and even ideas for projects or solutions or inspiration. Relax, take your time, realise that this is not a race, but it is LIFE, your life, and it is happening now, and sometimes the best way to ‘get ahead’ is just to stop, take time out, rest awhile, lean against a tree and look up at the sky, and simply ‘BE’.

Until next time, take care and be kind to yourself, and to those who are part of your life’s journey in this season.

Much love. xx

 

Life Lessons from the Common Cold!

As I type, life as it happens to be today has me experiencing symptoms of the common cold – sore throat, cough, fever, fatigue, etc.

The thing I find about blogging about and reflecting on my life, just as it happens to be, is that within the everyday, seemingly ordinary and mundane things of life (like having a bad cold!)  there can be little treasures of lessons and blessings.

So, here is what having the cold is teaching me today! 🙂

  1. Sometimes in life, you’ve just got to wait it out!

Nobody likes feeling unwell (and if they do, then that is rather strange). And it is unlikely that anyone particularly enjoys having a cough, cold, fever, tiredness, fatigue, and so forth. However, these things are facts of life that come and go with the seasons.

In life, we can find ourselves wanting to be in a different state to that which we are currently experiencing. For instance, you might be experiencing delays, setbacks, illness or disappointment. You may be unemployed and waiting for something to work out for you. You may be struggling with any number of things in life that have you experiencing a state you would rather not be in, but sometimes you’ve just got to ‘wait it out’. Let the season or situation of life take its course, just as you would when you’ve got a bad cold, and do your best to stay well, recover, and take the actions you need to in order to improve your situation.

2.  Take time to rest and build up strength!

When facing a cold, depending on our attitude, we may take a defiant stance – “I’m not going to let this defeat me. This isn’t going to stop me from doing all the things I normally do. I’ll show this cold who’s boss, and I’ll just plough on through it.”

Sometimes that might work. However, most medical advice would say that the best way to enable your body to ‘fight back’ and to replenish itself is to give it the chance to rest. Get plenty of rest and sleep, don’t push yourself farther than you need to go, take a break and it’s likely you’ll recover quicker.

Similarly, in life more generally, we need to make sure we take the time to rest and rejuvenate, even in the day to day routine of life if not taking specific, longer set aside time out. Taking the time to rest can help us achieve a better balance between work and leisure, it can help us to be more aware of our own thoughts and feelings, better manage your emotions, relate better to other people, be more productive longer term, live more fully and avoid the build up of unnecessary stress that can lead to burnout. I’ve definitely been a victim of not getting enough rest, and sometimes it is difficult depending on our circumstances to do just that. However, there are ways of building ‘R&R’ into our days and for our longer term health and wellbeing and fulfilment in life it is definitely worth thinking about and implementing steps towards this.

3. Self-care is important

When you’re feeling under the weather, what do you normally do, or what advice would other people give you?

Perhaps that would include: get plenty of rest, take the appropriate medicine, eat healthily, drink plenty of water, don’t overdo it, and basically just look after yourself.

In life, it’s important that we take care of ourselves more generally too. Maybe it’s worth thinking about how you can look after yourself a bit better, or how you can maintain your self-care if it is already something that you do intentionally as it is.

4. Things will change

You won’t have a cold forever, things will take their course, you’ll hopefully feel better, get back to strength and keep going with the next things in life.

Likely, things will improve. However, whatever your situation in life is right now, it is guaranteed that it will change. And your adaptability to change and seeing the positives even in situations that don’t seem good, has a lot to do with your perception and attitude.

Whatever the case, things will change, and there are plenty of things that you can do to make things better and improve whatever situation you are in.  Life goes on, so make the most of your better days, and don’t despair over your ‘not so good’ days, this too will pass.

And now, taking my own advice from steps 1, 2 and 3, I’m off to bed! 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂